The Son Also Rises.

opinion_080312

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The Marxists are right: Something “looking suspiciously like social class” still exists. However it is not a result of the “capitalist mode of production” that could be eliminated through revolution. Instead, social status is passed on much like a genetic trait; it remains constant under all sorts of social and political systems.

How did Prof. Clark reach such a conclusion after thousands of sociologists had missed it? He followed the fortunes of particular surnames over the course of centuries, whereas previous studies of social mobility looked at changes in status over two, or at most three, generations. Status always involves a sizeable element of chance, which artificially inflates the appearance of social mobility over just a generation or two. Hence, previous sociologists had estimated the heritability of status at around 40 percent. Using larger datasets over many generations is like calculating a moving average: It cancels out the short-term effects of chance. The picture that emerges is one of considerable short-term social mobility that masks longer-term stability and slow change.

(American Renaissance, April 4, 2014).

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